All in the Orchid Family

The orchid family is a vast one, and its amazing diversity will be on display during The Huntington’s International Orchid Show and Sale, Oct. 16–18. This unusual bloom—yes, that’s an orchid!—is Scaphosepalum swertiifolium ‘Huntington’s Violet Starling’ CHM/AOS. Photo by Arthur Pinkers.

The orchid family is a vast one, and its amazing diversity will be on display during The Huntington’s International Orchid Show and Sale, Oct. 16–18. This unusual bloom—yes, that’s an orchid!—is Scaphosepalum swertiifolium ‘Huntington’s Violet Starling’ CHM/AOS. Photo by Arthur Pinkers.

What comes to mind when you think of the word “orchid”? Do you picture the wrist corsage that you wore to your high school prom? Are you seeing the potted blooms in the floral section of the grocery store? Those lush and lovely flowers are indeed some of the most familiar types of orchids: Cattleya, Phaelenopsis, Dendobium, Cymbidium.

But the Orchidaceae family is a vast one—among the largest in the plant kingdom—with more than 22,000 species in 880 genera. If you know orchids only from the limited offerings in local stores, then you’ll be amazed when you discover the incredible breadth of their diversity.

Five hundred and forty flowers and 600 buds (but who’s counting?) cover this gracefully cascading orchid plant, Trichosalpinx chamaelepanthes 'Huntington's Fireflies' CCE. Photo by Arthur Pinkers.

Five hundred and forty flowers and 600 buds (but who’s counting?) cover this gracefully cascading orchid plant, Trichosalpinx chamaelepanthes ‘Huntington’s Fireflies’ CCE. Photo by Arthur Pinkers.

And there’s no better place to get better acquainted with orchids than at The Huntington’s International Orchid Show and Sale, which will take place Oct. 16–18, 2015, in the Brody Botanical Center. Exhibitors and vendors from as far away as Thailand, Taiwan, and Peru—and from as nearby as our own San Gabriel Valley—will showcase a wide variety of blooms in elaborate floral displays interpreting this year’s theme, “Beautiful Orchids.”

A number of orchids from The Huntington’s botanical collections will be included in the show, including specimens from the S. Robert Weltz Orchid Collection, donated in 2010. The event will also offer informative talks on a variety of topics, ranging from Chinese cymbidiums and the orchids of Ecuador to conservation and ecotourism.

The photos shown here offer just a hint of the delightful surprises in store for flower fans at the event. You can see additional examples of what to expect at this year’s show in our “Beautiful Orchids” photo set on Flickr.

Vampire or primate? This orchid looks like a bit of both. Dracula cordobae ‘Huntington’s Monkey’ AM. Photo by Arthur Pinkers.

Vampire or primate? This orchid looks like a bit of both. Dracula cordobae ‘Huntington’s Monkey’ AM. Photo by Arthur Pinkers.

Long, curling petals give a distinctive look to Paphiopedilum Michael Koopowitz ‘Huntington’s Cascade’ CCM/AOS. Photo by Arthur Pinkers.

Long, curling petals give a distinctive look to Paphiopedilum Michael Koopowitz ‘Huntington’s Cascade’ CCM/AOS. Photo by Arthur Pinkers.

Looking like tiny paper lanterns, the flowers of Pleurothallis nossax ‘Huntington's Kettle’ HCC/AOS bloom directly from the base of the leaf. Photo by Arthur Pinkers.

Looking like tiny paper lanterns, the flowers of Pleurothallis nossax ‘Huntington’s Kettle’ HCC/AOS bloom directly from the base of the leaf. Photo by Arthur Pinkers.

With its graceful form and delicate hue, Dendrobium ceraula ‘Huntington's Amethyst' HCC/AOS is impossible to resist. Photo by Arthur Pinkers.

With its graceful form and delicate hue, Dendrobium ceraula ‘Huntington’s Amethyst’ HCC/AOS is impossible to resist. Photo by Arthur Pinkers.

Lisa Blackburn is communications coordinator for the office of communications and marketing at The Huntington.

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